We need security for all students
Last month’s increase in crime in neighborhoods where a significant number of Washington University students live has attracted plenty of attention. In response, off-campus neighborhood patrols have been visibly increased, to the relief of students and parents alike. The recent spate of criminal activity has drawn attention to both the strengths of the police response and the safety needs of Wash. U. students living on and off campus.
So far, the police response appears to be effective. Parents and students said that they have seen and appreciated the patrols. Reported crime rates in the area have been low during the past two to three weeks. The police have leads on suspects in the recent robbery cases, including photos of vehicles possibly used by the perpetrator(s). According to Chief Dom Strom of the Washington University Police Department, no new incidents have been reported at this point. These supplementary patrols were extensive, but were discontinued, at least by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD), one week ago. Directed patrols continue to police the area at normal numbers.
While we applaud these responsive measures, the issue of transparency with regard to crime has not been fully resolved. Although the SLMPD has been open about its plans, the University City Police Department has not. For the sake of safety, it is not reasonable to expect that the police will make all details public. That being said, students deserve to know just how much crime affects the Wash. U. community and how much they are being protected.
While living in dorms and off-campus necessarily entail different risks, the safety provided to all students should be reasonably comparable. Not all students who live off-campus chose to do so: students who wish for more safety may be forced into off-campus housing by the lack of availability in the housing lottery.
Furthermore, though those in non-university owned housing take on added risks, their safety is also important. It reflects poorly on the school if a large number of students fall victim to crime.
Even students who live on campus attend parties on Pershing and visit friends north of the Loop. The student population extends beyond on-campus dorms and should be similarly protected.
Police patrols and other safety measures immediately north of campus have produced great results. WUPD has stepped up to provide a high level of service to students, and we appreciate the efforts. The key now is to continue to expand the level of security, whether in its current form or using different strategies.
The safety of students is not the sole responsibility of WUPD, either. It is obviously up to students to utilize some of the added safety precautions that the University offers. There are mechanisms in place to ensure off-campus safety; use them in conjunction with common sense. Take advantage of Campus2Home and avoid walking alone off campus late at night.
However, there are only so many preventative measures students can take. As students, we should be able to expect a high level of safety and security while on and near Wash. U. property. Even when crime ceases to be a main focus of concern on campus, preventative measures should not be neglected.
St. Louis has earned a reputation as a dangerous city. While Wash. U. deserves its reputation of excellence and undergraduates do not live in the city, the city’s crime situation can be a major deterrent to potential students. For the sake of both current students’ safety and the school’s reputation as a whole, we urge that off-campus safety and transparent and open communication about crime remain high priorities.